PARK CITY Real Salt Lake was supposed to play Real Madrid on Saturday, but that match-up fell through months ago for financial reasons, leading to the team's current 19-day layoff.
Instead of playing one of the elite clubs in the world, RSL's players tried to keep fresh Saturday morning by kicking each other around for 90 minutes in an intrasquad scrimmage at Quinn's Junction.
"It was crucial to get an 11-v-11 game out here with guys fighting, guys getting emotional, and I really think it was important to get that in," said Real defender Nat Borchers.
RSL hasn't played a match since its July 28 win over Toronto FC, and its next match isn't until this Saturday when it travels to Houston. Despite the lengthy break, RSL still narrowly clings to first place in the Western Conference, leading Houston by just one point.
"When you go down to Houston and play in that heat, and against a good team that's got all those dangerous players, it's not going to be easy, so we're definitely looking over all the little details for that game," said Borchers.
Following the win over Toronto, the players were given the rest of that week off. The players reconvened in Salt Lake City this past Monday and have been at it ever since.
Even though nobody really wanted the 19-day break, coach Jason Kreis and a few of his players admitted that in hindsight it might have been a good thing.
"Sometimes around this time, especially the younger guys, you tend to hit a wall a little bit. I think a break like that will help those guys to stay fresh and for us to come back and get right back into it," said Wingert.
Saturday's scrimmage, in which the first-team players were split evenly among the two teams, helped everyone regain what little fitness they might have lost during their five-day vacation away from the team.Wingert said it felt great to get 90 minutes in, especially at Park City's altitude. He said it can only help the team's confidence heading into this week's match at Houston.